Risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia following parental occupational exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields

Br J Cancer. 2011 Oct 25;105(9):1409-13. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.365. Epub 2011 Sep 13.


Background: Earlier studies have reported moderate increases in the risk of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) among children whose mothers have been occupationally exposed to extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields. Other studies examining parental occupational exposure to ELF and ALL have reported mixed results.

Methods: In an Australian case-control study of ALL in children aged < 15 years, parents were asked about tasks they undertook in each job. Exposure variables were created for any occupational exposure before the birth of the child, in jobs 2 years before birth, in jobs 1 year before birth and up to 1 year after birth.

Results: In all, 379 case and 854 control mothers and 328 case and 748 control fathers completed an occupational history. Exposure to ELF in all time periods was similar in case and control mothers. There was no difference in exposure between case and control fathers. There was no association between maternal (odds ratio (OR)=0.96; 95% CI=0.74-1.25) or paternal (OR=0.78; 95% CI=0.56-1.09) exposure to ELF any time before the birth and risk of childhood ALL.

Conclusion: We did not find an increased risk of ALL in offspring of parents with occupational exposure to ELF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors